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Century boy Rory Best really is the best in show for proud Irish

By Jonathan Bradley

Published 28/11/2016

Ireland's captain Rory Best celebrates victory over Australia at the Aviva Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. PA
Ireland's captain Rory Best celebrates victory over Australia at the Aviva Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. PA
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 26: Paddy Jackson of Ireland and CJ Stander of Ireland celebrate as Referee, Jerome Garces awards Ireland a penalty to finish the game during the international match between Ireland and Australia at the Aviva Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Ireland's captain Rory Best celebrates with his wife Jodie and son Ben after the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
Ireland's players celebrate their win on the pitch after the rugby union test match between Ireland and Australia at the Aviva stadium in Dublin on November 26, 2016. Ireland won the game 27-24. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's Jack McGrath celebrates with teammates after the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
Ireland's captain Rory Best with his family after the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
Ireland's Tadhg Furlong after the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
Ireland's Simon Zebo and Conor Murray celebrate after the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
Ireland's Simon Zebo and Keith Earls celebrate after the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
Ireland's captain Rory Best celebrates with teammates after the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
Ireland's Keith Earls (left) and Conor Murray celebrate after the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
Ireland's captain Rory Best celebrates with teammates after the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
Ireland's players celebrate their win on the pitch after the rugby union test match between Ireland and Australia at the Aviva stadium in Dublin on November 26, 2016. Ireland won the game 27-24. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Ireland's Devin Toner celebrates with teammates after the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
Ireland's captain Rory Best celebrates with his wife Jodie, sons Ritchie and Ben after the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
Ireland's captain Rory Best applauds the fans after the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
Ireland's captain Rory Best (centre) talks to his team-mates during a time out in the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 26: Tevita Kuridrani of Australia celebrates scoreing his side's second try during the international match between Ireland and Australia at the Aviva Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 26: Bernard Foley of Australia kicks a conversion to take the lead during the international match between Ireland and Australia at the Aviva Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Ireland's Keith Earls scores a try during the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
Australia's Sefanaia Naivalu gets past Ireland's Conor Murray on his way to scoring a try during the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
Ireland's CJ Stander and Australia's Lopeti Timani (right) during the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
Fans celebrate after Ireland's Keith Earls scores a try during the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
Ireland's Sean Cronin is tackled by Australia's Reece Hodge during the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
Ireland's Tadhg Furlong is held back by Australia's Israel Folau during the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 26: Dane Haylett-Petty of Australia is tackled by Keith Earls of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and Australia at the Aviva Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 26: Referee, Jerome Garces gestures to Rory Best of Ireland during the international match between Ireland and Australia at the Aviva Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Ireland's Rory Best and Australia's Bernard Foley (right) compete for the ball during the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
Dane Haylett-Petty of Australia skips past Jamie Heaslip of Ireland to score his side's first try during the international match between Ireland and Australia at the Aviva Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 26: Simon Zebo of Ireland is tackled by Henry Speight of Australia during the international match between Ireland and Australia at the Aviva Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 26: Simon Zebo of Ireland is tackled by Henry Speight of Australia during the international match between Ireland and Australia at the Aviva Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 26: Dane Haylett-Petty of Australia dives over to score his side's first try during the international match between Ireland and Australia at the Aviva Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 26: Dane Haylett-Petty of Australia dives over to score his side's first try during the international match between Ireland and Australia at the Aviva Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Australia's flanker Dean Mumm (R) cannot prevent Ireland's centre Garry Ringrose diving over the line to score Ireland's second try during the rugby union test match between Ireland and Australia at the Aviva stadium in Dublin on November 26, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PAUL FAITHPAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images
Australia's Michael Hooper is tackled by Ireland's Jared Payne during the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin Pic: Niall Carson/PA Wire.
General view of the action between Ireland and Australia during the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
Ireland's Simon Zebo is tackled by Australia's Bernard Foley during the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
Rory Best of Ireland greets former Ireland player Ronan O'Gara prior to the international match between Ireland and Australia at the Aviva Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 26: A general view of the Australia dressing room prior to the international match between Ireland and Australia at the Aviva Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 26: Bernard Foley of Australia arrives prior to the international match between Ireland and Australia at the Aviva Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
General view of the warm up inside the Aviva Stadium before the Autumn International match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday November 26, 2016. See PA story RUGBYU Ireland. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, No commercial use without prior permission
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 26: Stephen Moore of Australia shakes hands with Rory Best of Ireland prior to the international match between Ireland and Australia at the Aviva Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Ireland players (from left) Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Sean Cronin, Rory Best and Conor Murray arrive for the captain's run at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. PA
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 25: Stephen Moore of Australia looks on during the Australia Captain's Run on the eve of their international match against Ireland Aviva Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 25: Stephen Moore of Australia speaks to the media following the Australia Captain's Run on the eve of their international match against Ireland Aviva Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 25: Reece Hodge of Australia practices his kicking during the Australia Captain's Run on the eve of their international match against Ireland Aviva Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 25: Dane Haylett-Petty of Australia receives a pass during the Australia Captain's Run on the eve of their international match against Ireland Aviva Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 25: Henry Speight of Australia practices his kicking during the Australia Captain's Run on the eve of their international match against Ireland Aviva Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 25: David Pocock of Australia claims a high ball during the Australia Captain's Run on the eve of their international match against Ireland Aviva Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 25: Bernard Foley of Australia in action during the Australia Captain's Run on the eve of their international match against Ireland Aviva Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 25: Bernard Foley of Australia practices his drop kick during the Australia Captain's Run on the eve of their international match against Ireland Aviva Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 25: Rory Arnold arrives prior to the Australia Captain's Run on the eve of their international match against Ireland at Aviva Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 25: David Pocock collides with a post as he catches the ball during the Australia Captain's Run on the eve of their international match against Ireland at Aviva Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 25: Players and coaching staff pose prior to the Australia Captain's Run on the eve of their international match against Ireland at Aviva Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 25: Bernard Foley (L) and Stephen Moore look on during the Australia Captain's Run on the eve of their international match against Ireland at Aviva Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 25: James Slipper evades team mate Sekope Kepu during the Australia Captain's Run on the eve of their international match against Ireland at Aviva Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 25: Quade Cooper in action during the Australia Captain's Run on the eve of their international match against Ireland at Aviva Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 25: Dean Mumm (R) walks onto the pitch with team mates during the Australia Captain's Run on the eve of their international match against Ireland at Aviva Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 25: Bernard Foley (L) and Stephen Moore look on during the Australia Captain's Run on the eve of their international match against Ireland at Aviva Stadium on November 25, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 24: Sekope Kepu of Australia looks for a pass during an Australia training session at the RDS Arena on November 24, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 24: Will Genia of Australia looks for a pass during an Australia training session at the RDS Arena on November 24, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 24: Rory Arnold of Australia releases a pass during an Australia training session at the RDS Arena on November 24, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 24: Bernard Foley of Australia looks for a pass during an Australia training session at the RDS Arena on November 24, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 24: Michael Hooper of Australia hands off Silatolu Latu of Australia during an Australia training session at the RDS Arena on November 24, 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

When a captain is one who leads by example, his actions must speak volumes and such is the case with Rory Best.

Just look at how he handled himself in the minutes following the final whistle of his landmark 100th cap.

The first Ulsterman to hit the mark, and just the fifth Irish player, those around him were understandably keen to show their appreciation.

Having been roared on to and off the pitch, the Aviva Stadium was ready to show its appreciation for a third and final time but for Best the plaudits could wait.

More: Triple crown over southern hemisphere sides rates as greatest Irish achievement

Before all that he had to congratulate Josh van der Flier, a player very much at the other end of the scale when it comes to Test caps and who had earned man-of-the-match honours in a clash he wasn't even due to start until Sean O'Brien went down late in the week.

When the Poyntzpass man did get in front of the cameras, he said he could take no credit for what Ireland have achieved this month, while thanking everyone from team-mates, coaches, family and his club in Banbridge, before departing the scene to be with family.

Wife Jodie (right) was waiting pitchside with children Ben, Penny, and Richie for a photograph sure to adorn the mantelpiece in the Best family home for years to come, but first the skipper stopped for a snap with a fan in a wheelchair.

In what was undoubtedly his moment, he was sure to make memories for others.

Best is a good talker, just not one prone to hyperbole. Coming as he does from farming stock, it would be appropriate to say he calls a spade a spade, and as such, he may have been taken aback by the superlatives thrown his way this week.

Afterwards, deep in the bowels of the Aviva Stadium, he admitted it had been overwhelming.

"It's obviously very special," he reflected.

"When I got the first, I never dreamed I would get 100. "To do it at the Aviva, it was incredibly special.

"Personally, this week has shown why Irish rugby is such a special place to be around. The amount of support and well-wishers has been really special. It shows why it's so special to be in that green jersey."

After joking that he hoped somebody had documented his father John showing the emotions of the day, Best hailed his young team-mates and what they had produced to beat Australia despite playing an entire half without key men Johnny Sexton, Robbie Henshaw, Jared Payne, Rob Kearney, Andrew Trimble and Sean O'Brien.

Thinking back to the World Cup, when five key men were lost on the eve of facing Argentina and hopes of a semi-final place went down with them, the added depth has been remarkable to witness this year.

"We talk about a squad and to lose Johnny and Robbie, and then Sean so late, you just hope the squad steps up.

"It's something that, especially the last 12 months, we've worked really hard on.

"We had a tough old start to the Six Nations with so many injured, and the same in South Africa, but you're starting to see the rewards of it.

"They're such a great bunch of guys to captain and to be around. "I suppose at this stage, it's still really fun playing and training.

"The coaches make it so most of the time - other times they give us dog's abuse. "It's a really good balance. For me, for 100 caps, it was very special, to have to make the changes that we did during the game.

"First of all you ask guys to fit in, and out of position that's hard. You just ask them to show a stomach for the fight and every man who stepped onto the pitch did that.

"That's all you can ask. It wasn't perfect but it was enough."

The last man to lead a side past all three Southern Hemisphere powers in the same year was England's Martin Johnson in 2003, with Best pleased to answer at least some questions raised by last year's World Cup.

"It's obviously a pretty big achievement," he said. "To do it with so many players is a good sign for us and the depth that we're building. After the World Cup, there was all this talk about the gap from the northern hemisphere to the south.

"We didn't feel there was a gap 12 months ago and that's probably the biggest thing for us. We feel on our day we can compete with anybody.

"Since Joe came in, it's been about consistency. We were disappointed last week so to turn round and get the result is very important. You have to show that level and we've now shown it against three top nations."

For now, while talk will swirl for the remainder of the season regarding the Lions, Best's focus is on regaining Ireland's Six Nations crown and, in the even more immediate future, getting Ulster's season on track.

"I think we look back at the entire autumn and know we've a lot of work to do but it puts us in good stead going forward.

"The boys will go off and there'll be some very interesting derbies over Christmas and European games.

"Some feel they're in a good place to progress and others, like us, will need to up the performance.

"It's in good stead as long as we keep striving to get better."

Belfast Telegraph

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